The lawyer representing Vincent Muscat, one of the three men accused of the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, has dropped his client, just three months after taking over as defence counsel in the murder case.
Confirming that he has formally renounced his brief, Dr Arthur Azzopardi told Times of Malta on Sunday that his law firm - Azzopardi Borg and Abela Advocates - would no longer be representing Mr Muscat (known as il-Koħħu) in any of the cases.
"The law firm has renounced its brief in all his cases," Dr Azzopardi said.
Apart from the case on Ms Caruana Galizia's murder, the lawyer had been representing Mr Muscat in two other cases - one related to the 2010 HSBC heist and a constitutional case which Dr Azzopardi said is "not related to either" of the other two.
In 2010, Mr Muscat was accused of being involved in a failed HSBC bank heist, including the attempted murder of a policeman. He is expected to stand trial for his part in the crime early next year.
On what had prompted the decision to drop Mr Muscat as a client, Dr Azzopardi said this was a "partnership" decision but he did not divulge any other information.
Earlier this month, The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that Mr Muscat had been offered a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony in the Caruana Galizia case.
Mr Muscat, who was charged in December 2017 over his involvement in the car bomb murder of the journalist, has over the past months been willing to provide some information about his role in the execution, the newspaper had reported.
Dr Azzopardi became Mr Muscat's lawyer in the journalist's case three months ago, first appearing in court as part of the accused's defence team on July 15. when he requested bail for Mr Muscat.
Before the change, Mr Muscat had been represented by legal aid Martin Fenech.
It has yet to be established whether Mr Muscat will appoint a new lawyer or declare that he does not have the means to appoint one and request legal aid.
How does a renunciation of a brief work?
According to sources familiar with such a procedure, a lawyer may inform the courts verbally of the decision to no longer represent a client. The lawyer, however, would also be required to file a formal note.
The lawyer is not be required to disclose to the court why he is dropping the case.
The accused must decide the way forward by either opting for another lawyer to appear on his behalf or seeking state legal aid. In case of the latter, a lawyer is then appointed by the court
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us